Using Inkscape Fill for Cutlines

Here is a quick tip for the Inkscape users out there. Say you have a complex object, or group of objects, that you want to create a vector cut path around. A quick way to do that is draw a rectangle around the object and use the fill command (clicking inside the rectangle but not the object)…

This will create a new object with a hole cut in it. You then can use Path -> Break Apart and delete the two leftover rectangles.

Giving you a nice cut outline to your object.

If desired, you can add some padding with Path -> Outset


People are finding and posting a lot of useful quick tips lately. This is one of the best.



Looks like something I could do in Illustrator too.


I soooooo needed to know this! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!


Yes you can. I would probably do a select all, copy, paste in place, pathfinder union (not at the computer so not sure if name is right). I bet there’s 20 different ways to do the same thing.

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@ekla posted good a way to do it with the Shape Builder in Illustrator. These are the visual notes for the procedure that I made for myself.

Yep, there’s many posts on these forums with variations on the theme. I’ve used paste in place for decades so it is a bit of a default action for me. Sometimes there are better ways but I’ve been using it for so long it is second nature.

Adding to the Matrix! Nice tut! :grinning:


Excellent tip!!! I am sure I will use it.

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You might avoid a lot of those steps by just copying the outline and use dynamic outset or if complex just copy the whole thing and hit union. That will make the copy one outline and then dynamic outset that. Remembering that in Inkscape the copy command is called duplicate.

Exactly what I was thinking for Illustrator - probably a way to do that approach in Inkscape as well, since there’s good boolean support there.

For Inkscape beginners it’s important to make the distinction between ‘copy’ and ‘duplicate’. Most people think of ‘Copy’ (Control+C) as making an invisible copy that then needs to be pasted somewhere. You can do that in Inkscape. But there is an additional operation called ‘Duplicate’ (Control+D) that does the copy and then pastes in place in one operation.

So assuming everything is a path, the sequence Control+A, Control+D, Control++ gets the outline and then Control+J allows you to create the offset.


The challenge is when you have a vector with a lot of open paths such as this B-17…

I made many attempts using Duplicate, Union etc with little success…

Using Fill turned out to be the simple solution!


Thanks for the heads up when I try to outline a complicated drawing and it doesn’t work the ‘union’ way!


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Great information!
Just used this and it worked great!

On a related note, I’ve set a mask in Inkscape. I have a repeating pattern, and I’ve put a circle on top of it, so the repeating pattern will be in the shape of a circle. When I set it, and then save it as svg, it shows fine in Finder. It is a circle. When I import into GFUI, it shows back up as a square…the original shape before I masked.

What else do I need to do?!

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Glad you found it helpful. My guess about your question is you’ll need to convert the repeating pattern to a path (object to path) before uploading it into the UI. Best to do that with a copy of the object so you can keep the flexibility to change later.

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So, object to path after I apply the mask or before?

Good hint using a copy to go back to it later.

I haven’t used masks at all so I don’t have any experience to add there…but if you get down to an object that the GFUI doesn’t interpret well, object to path will often solve the issue.

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Understand. Thanks for the quick reply!

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